May 27, 2020

Family Courts During Lockdown

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Urgent Family Matters

The Court Services are listing matters in accordance with how urgent the case.

Cases which are considered to be urgent and take priority are:-

  1. Child abduction 
  2. If you consider that a child is at risk of harm
  3. If you have been harmed or are at immediate risk of harm

In the above circumstances, urgent applications may be made to the Court and the listing of these matters will be heard prior to the ordinary court family business.

Application for Child Arrangements Orders

These are applications where the parties have a dispute over the Arrangements for the Children.   The hearings have been categorised by the Courts as the ‘will be done category’.  These will be allocated to a District Judge or Magistrates for hearing as soon as possible but will not be classified as urgent.   However, if there are problems over the Children’s Arrangements parents should not be put off instructing their solicitor to issue proceedings, as these cases will be heard by the Court but the procedure will take a little longer than normal.

Divorce and Financial Remedy Proceedings

The issuing of Divorce Petitions again fall into the ‘will be done category’.   This means they will be done as soon as possible after the urgent Court business has been dealt with.     It does not mean that you should delay instructing your solicitor to issue your Divorce Petition when you are distressed as a result of the breakdown of your marriage.   The matter will still be dealt with by the Court but will not be prioritised.   However, at least having issued the proceedings you will be aware that the matter is progressing.

Financial Remedy Applications

Such Applications again fall into the ‘will be done category’.     It is often useful to have voluntary disclosure by way of the Form used by the Court, namely Form E, to provide full financial disclosure to the parties solicitors to see if agreement can be reached prior to issuing an Application for a Financial Order.     In the event that agreement is reached the matter may be resolved by way of a Consent Order made by the Court which incorporates the terms of the agreement which has been reached by the parties.    Also in some cases parties attend mediation to reach an agreed settlement but it is very important that if the mediation route is taken both parties must be willing to mediate.   If parties are living under the same roof in a very unhappy atmosphere the current pandemic should not hold parties back from issuing proceedings even though such proceedings will take a little longer than usual.

Remote Hearings

Except when there are exceptional circumstances all Court Hearings are heard remotely.   This can be via video link, skype or telephone.    The Court will usually make an Order that the case will be heard remotely. The writer has dealt with a number of telephone remote hearings which seems to be preferred method used by most of the Family Court’s at present.      The Court usually facilitate the Remote Hearing but in certain circumstances, the parties solicitor’s have to arrange the hearing.    It is necessary for the parties and their solicitors or counsel to provide their telephone contact details to the Court.       A fixed time will be given by the Court for the Remote Hearing and the parties will be called and will be invited to join the hearing.   The Judge will then introduce his or herself or in the event that the case is heard by Magistrates, the Magistrates’ clerk will introduce his or herself and also the Magistrates.  The case will then proceed as it would have done in Court but over the telephone.   The writer has found that these hearings work well and some parties prefer it as they are not intimidated by being in the formal Court Building and are sitting in the comfort of their own home.   However parties will be warned that no other person may listen to the proceedings neither is anyone permitted to record the proceedings.   In accordance with the Court’s normal practice the proceedings will be recorded by the Court.      

Can Aston Bond help with your worries and concerns about any of the above matters?

If you have any concerns relating to children’s disputes please do not hesitate to contact Lynette-Ann A’Court – Senior Family Solicitor at Aston Bond for your free initial interview

Mobile: – 07754662438 Email –